Need help with playing non-diatonically

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by sketchyluke182, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. sketchyluke182

    sketchyluke182 SS.org Regular

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    Hello all,

    I've been teaching myself guitar for a long time now and am in understanding music theory for the most part. I've been putting this knowledge to use by composing my own tunes but I've fallen into a rut whereby all of them just stick to notes within a given scale.

    Could someone point me in the right direction where I might learn a bit more how to use notes outside of the scale to come up with interesting chords or riffs? There seems to be a whole lot less resources on the web for this kind of thing.

    Maybe you have some examples to share that work well?
     
  2. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Well...there are literally a hundred ways to do that. Maybe you could give a little more specific information on what you are wanting to do.

    There are plenty of topics about this all over the 'net, but maybe you need to narrow your seach to specific terms.

    There are chord substitutions, which is an entire deep topic of playing chords with notes that don't fit into the scale exactly, and there are several ways to think about doing that, although I think a lot of guitarists tend to just do it without rationale, even if they tend to do it in the same dozen or so ways as every other guitarist.

    Then there are exotic scales. They're still scales, but they don't fit into the standard key signatures. That could be as mundane as the harmonic minor scale, which gives the quintessential neoclassical/metal sound, to more spicy things like the Hungarian Minor Scale, a favourite of mine as well as folks like Matthias Eklundh and whoever composed the theme song for the Inspector Gadget cartoon.

    Then there are octatonic, nontonic, decatonic, blah blah blah scales, with added notes. These are rare outside of avante-garde music, death metal, and some early post-impressionist program music. Somewhat similar concept to exotic scales, where you use a scale, but it just doesn't have the "right notes" in it.

    Then you have the blues, which kind of combines the ideas of substituted chords into scale-oriented playing structures, usually refernecing playing through chords and mainly the tritone substitutions. This is also done in tons and tons of jazz and rock.

    Then there is chromatic playing, where you try to use all of the notes. It usually sounds like garbage, but if you do it like Buckethead or Ron JArzombek, you can make sound effects like robots and computers with your guitar.

    Then there is atonalism and serialism, which is similar, in theory, to chromaticism, but stresses the lack of any tonal center or tonic note, so it has to be done with much more care, and the results sound quite interesting to few, and like random noise to most.

    Then you can go off the deep end with microtonal tunings, percussive playing (Joe Satriani and IA Eklundh both messed with this), and beyond.
     
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  3. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    hit all the notes however want to as fast as possible
    non-diachronic by definition.
     
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  4. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    You're not wrong. :lol:
     
  5. JustMac

    JustMac ss not-so-regular

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    What kind of music do you like? That would be a great jumping off point. Maybe post a link to a song that presents difficulty when assessing/learning from, and a I'm sure we'll be able to help you out.

    I'm convinced that learning a little bit of music theory can be quite dangerous as I was in the same boat as you when I started learning theory, I guess like me you might like to learn why you like the music you do (for your own writing etc) , with regard to knowing the underlying theory behind it, so hitting a wall with theory does serve as a huge roadblock there.

    After a while you learn that all 12 notes can be shapeshifted into any number of keys, chords and harmomic structures (chord progressions, static forms for modal playing etc.), but knowing what you like is very important in reaching that point, as some forms of music aren't as complex when trying to break it all down (bebop vs modern pop music, for example)
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  6. InCasinoOut

    InCasinoOut syncopAZN

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    I just started delving into modal interchange thanks to this excellent theory video to get out of the same kinda rut too. I finally started to understand modes this year but got stuck still writing diatonically, and I would have never known it could be so easy to borrow chords from other modes until now. Check it out
     
  7. Rawkmann

    Rawkmann SS.org Regular

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    Pentatonic and Blues (Minor Pentatonic with b5) Scales, comes in handy for nearly any type of music
     
  8. billinder33

    billinder33 SS.org Regular

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    I posted this in another thread, I think it's applicable here as a starting point for what you're looking for:

    There are a few different techniques I use to go 'outside the box':

    Diminished/half-diminished riffs - darker, tense feel
    Augmented/whole-tone riffs - progressive jazzy feel
    Chromatic riffs - jazzy/bebop feel
    Playing the same scale or riff 1/2 step above or below the tonic - progressive jazz feel with tension
    Repeating a short 3-8 note arpeggio or riff by ascending or descending 1/2 step each time - gives a feeling of movement or 'going somewhere'
    playing in a totally unrelated key for 1/2 bar (like a major scale on the b5 of the root) - way 'outside-the-box' feel

    I find that the key to creating great-sounding dissonance is knowing where to interject it. I heard someone once say that the best place is where you would expect to hear a drum fill. That actually works pretty well. So like the end of a progression right before you go back to the tonic/root. Also I find it can work well when you're hitting the first IV on a I-VI-I-IV-V-I or the V on the sequence of II-V-I's.... basically the when you dive in to the chord right before or after the tonic/root chord.

    All this stuff works for creating the dissonance, but the hardest part is elegantly settling back into your root scale when your dissonance riffing ends. In an improvisation setting, it's easy to lose sight of where your tonic is when you're going 'outside the box' around the fretboard.
     
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  9. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Some insight into the style OP is looking to do would be helpful. There is a lot of metal that is just shifting power chords up and down the fretboard chromatically. Hell, there's a lot of jazz that practically does that. Take the intro of Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues."



    [​IMG]

    I put all chromatic bass motion under a dotted slur.

    (Though maybe Josie is a better example.)

    How do you get away from writing diatonically? Just do it. You'll need to learn a bunch more if you're intending on writing something like Ligeti's "Hungarian Rock," but nobody's going to hold your hand and nothing is holding you back.

     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
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  10. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Interesting. Where can I learn more about this piece?
     
  11. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Let me be clear that I don't know anything about Ligeti's music. However, I have a little bit of general music background and therefore can notice a few things: "Hungarian Rock" is marked as a chaconne, which is a variation form with ancient origins. Chaconnes are based on a repeating chord progression. Ligeti sticks to this very literally. The Hungarian part, I guess, is the additive meter: 2+2+1+2+2. (Note the symmetry, which is especially apparent at the beginning of the piece. The rhythm is also realized as 2+3+2+2 or 2+2+3+2.) You'll notice that the rhythm of the right hand is pretty free, but the left hand keeps it steady. This is pretty common in his piano music, from what I've heard. Check out Étude No. 4, Fanfares for another piece that utilizes repetition plus a varying melody. Bartók does this kind of thing occasionally and has some other similarities, so maybe Ligeti is reaching back to Bartók for some stylistic cues.

    The layering approach makes me think that we are in the world of polytonality, though I haven't done any work to confirm that. The ostinato of "Hungarian Rock" is triadic, but not in a goal-oriented tonal way: ||: G F C D A | C B♭F G D | Gm D♭ Cm B♭ F | A7 G7 F#° E7 D#° :|| is what we're working with. The first three measures are, perhaps tenuously, in G. If that is the case, the third measure dabbles with some mode mixture, and any (already weak) sense of G-centeredness dissolves in the fourth measure. But maybe not. D#° (D# F# A) is one pitch away from D#°7 (D# F# A C), which is enharmonically equivalent to F#°7 (F# A C# E♭), vii°7 in the key of G. There is an F#° triad just a bit before, indicating that E7 might be a passing chord prolonging an F#°7 sonority. The whole tune ends in B♭, but hey, nobody says this thing has to stay in one key. There's an interesting moment at 1:36, where the right hand expresses a C major collection (not saying that's the tonality, just the notes) for an entire 4-bar cycle, then it dips into a C minor/E♭ major collection for the next 4-bar cycle (Chromatic mediant relation? Modal interchange?) and then back into C major, before rocketing off with B major. I don't know. Would be interesting to analyze.

    When researching anything, I hit the books and search for articles and dissertations.

    An undergraduate thesis that sounds like an undergraduate thesis: Matthew Pollock - Defining a Style: The Role of Rhythm in Motivic and Formal Cohesion in the Music of György Ligeti

    Something a little more seasoned that I cannot find the full text for: John Daniel Cuciurean - A Theory of Pitch, Rhythm, and Intertextual Allusion for the Late Music of Gyorgy Ligeti

    Same author: John Daniel Cuciurean - Aspects of Harmonic Structure, Voice Leading, and Aesthetic Function in György Ligeti's in Zart Fliessender Bewegung

    Abstracts from a conference where the above paper was delivered: Ligeti Conference, London 2012

    Probably a good book: Benjamin Levy - Metamorphosis in Music: The Compositions of György Ligeti in the 1950s and 1960s

    An article that talks about some of the pitch materials I mentioned:
    Man-Ching Yu - Transformations of Diatonic Materials and Tonal Procedures in Ligeti’s Etude No. 15 “White on White"


    "György Ligeti virtually excluded Hungarian Rock and Passacaglia ungherese (1978) from his oeuvre, stating that they had been intended merely as ironic commentaries on discussions with his pupils at the Hamburg Hochschule, and as reactions to 'the whole neo-tonal and postmodern movement'."

    I don't know, man. It's a big question.
     
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  12. Aion

    Aion SS.org Regular

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    If you're looking to break into some new territory for writing new riffs, I think looking into, shall we say alternative scales, is a good place to start. Diminished, whole-tone, even modes based on scales aside from major. You also might want to look at synthetic scales. There's a whole big thread pinned about that, but the easy intro is pick any two chords, the notes of those chords make your "new," scale.

    For trying to come up with new chord progressions, I would look at classical and jazz (specifically bebop) to create a foundation. You'll want to look at the following ideas (in roughly the listed order):

    Secondary dominants
    Secondary diminished
    Tritone substitutions (the more flexible, jazz version of the classical concept of augmented sixth chords)
    Neapolitan chords
    Borrowing chords from the parallel minor/major
    Altering type of dominant chord

    These are all concepts in, "functional," harmony, where there is a tonal center, however, they add chromaticism and when used together in certain ways, they can create a feeling of ambiguous tonality without feeling random. From there, you still have a million and a half directions to explore, but I think it provides a strong foundation in which to incorporate those more complex ideas. But if it strange l doesn't work for you, don't worry, there are definitely other solutions.
     
  13. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    :lol:

    As you're probably figuring out, this is a HUGE topic, and there are a lot of different ways to do this. So, I guess, rather than trying to write you a book or jump into the fray here, provided you want to write consonant sounding music that uses non-diatonic elements, I'd spend a lot of time thinking about musical cadence, tension and resolution, and look at this as not a question about how to add outside tones, so much, to your music, but how to get back inside after you do.
     
  14. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    My suggestion -


    Or, if you need to warm up to that, try this:


    Or, if those are too easy, try this:
     
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